Yes Pumpkin is great, and not just for Charlie Brown. Many people think of pumpkins as little more than a Halloween decoration or a Thanksgiving pie filling. However, it may be time to rethink this plump, nutritious orange plant.
The potassium contained within pumpkins can have a positive effect on blood pressure.
The antioxidants in pumpkin could help prevent degenerative damage to the eyes.
In Italy the pumpkin pie it is not popular, except at my house because I’ll make it once a year from scratch. We do not have the canned product, which I prefer not to use anyway because the sugar content in those cans is too high.
But, what do we do in Italy with pumpkins? Here are a few uses:
Tortellini; this is a favorite. And for this dish the most suitable pumpkins is the one we called Mantovana, as coming from Mantova, as pictured below.
Gnocchi; for this dish also the Mantovana pumpkin is more suitable. It can be done with or without potatoes;
Risotto; this is also a very good way to use a pumpkin.
Then a dish that I call: “Creamy P.P.P. with Gorgonzola”. It’s a Creamy Polenta, potatoes, pumpkin with Gorgonzola cheese. For this dish the familiar American Butternut is the best.
And finally “Zuf”, a mix of polenta and pumpkin. Something that almost disappeared from our tables, but that I still remenber from my childhood.
Let’s see about the tortellini. I never make these at home because I think that they are best bought at the store. There are many brands all good, and some excellent. There are companies specialized in tortellini making, such as Vecchia Malga, near Bologna (see my post on Bologna culinary traditions).
They are called “Tortellini” (small), “Tortelli” (medium, sometimes round in shape, rather than the tradition wrap), “Cappellacci” (bigger), and “Ravioli” (square).
FOR THE STUFFING all of them have:
150 g of amaretti**
2 kg of pumpkin
250 g of Parmigiano Reggiano
1 lemon peel
The best way to serve them is with butter and sage, by sizzling a few sage leaves in a pan with the butter, adding the tortellini once cooked to mix it all very well. Serving with parmesan on top.
I shall give you the recipes in installments, so stay tuned for more on pumpkins.